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Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2020: celebrating 25 years of progress

Telstra Business Women's Awards

Posted on September 4, 2019

4 min read

We want to celebrate women in business and thank the many who have paved the way and helped reshape the Australian business landscape for the better. That’s why the Telstra Business Women’s Awards are back for their 25th year.

25 years ago we awarded our first Telstra Business Woman of the Year to Sue Vardon for her work as South Australia’s Department of Correctional Services chief executive officer.

Sue said at the time that the award gave her the confidence, profile and credibility which helped her take the step to set up Centrelink. “It also gave me a chance to acknowledge the many others who had contributed to my success, in particular my mother,” she recalled.

“Most significantly, the awards continue to highlight women who may see themselves as ordinary by acknowledging and showing how extraordinary they are. Other women gain confidence and inspiration from hearing the stories, particularly when they see how others have persisted after hardship.

“They showcase to the larger community that success and excellence is not defined by gender and I know a lot of women are thankful for the path the Awards have helped pave,” said Sue.

Now, when you analyse women in business by the numbers, you quickly identify some key trends. Women now make up more than a third of all Australian business operators and there has been a 46 per cent increase in that number in the past two decades.

To Sue, and the many other trailblazing businesswomen, we say thank you. Thank you for giving other women a female leader to look up to; for not being deterred by the doubters; for standing up, speaking up and lifting other women up.

The progress is encouraging, but we know there remains much to do. The OECD and Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) recognise that women still remain underrepresented as entrepreneurs in this country. Specifically, the PMC identified this as a ‘key concern for policy’.

Corporate Australia also needs more female representation, with the number of women serving on boards at just 20.1 per cent of the ASX 200.

That’s why we want to encourage Australians to back our female leaders in business. We want to showcase and celebrate their great work and reward their tenacity in reshaping how Australia interacts with business.

We’re thrilled to mark 25 years – a quarter of a century of recognising incredible female leaders and progress.

At last year’s awards, an incredible disruptor in the field of aged care was recognised. Natasha Chadwick is the CEO of NewDirection Care at Bellmere. She took out the award in 2019 for forging her own path in a critical industry to better address the quality of aged and dementia care in this country. Natasha said after she won that the process of entering the Telstra Business Women’s Awards allowed her to articulate her mission well.

TBWA 2019 National Business Woman of the Year Award Winner - Natasha Chadwick

“I’ve got a very clear vision and goal of what we want to achieve, and we’ve always had that. Certainly, having to articulate what we want to achieve through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards process has made it even clearer. I now have the validation that we’re on the right track, and the extra encouragement to take NewDirection Care to the next level,” Natasha said at the time.

So what is the next level for NewDirection Care? Natasha says she’s using the Telstra Business Women’s Awards win to help propel her and her company to the international stage.

If you know someone like Natasha, Sue or the countless other incredible women we’ve seen enter the Telstra Business Women’s Awards over the past 25 years, now is your time to nominate for 2020. To nominate yourself or an inspiring businesswoman you know, visit the Telstra Business Women’s Awards nomination website.